Welcome to Terry Trueman Week! This week on Carly Reads, I will be featuring posts about our TBF mascot. Our first post is from guest blogger Jessica. Jessica is a graduate student at St. John Fisher College. She is a certified teacher and is currently finishing her Master’s degree in Literacy Education. When she’s not in school herself, she’s a substitute teacher in Webster. Her favorite YA book is “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold (a cross-over book!). When she read it in high school, it helped her realize who much she loved reading. Jessica is most looking forward to meeting Laurie Halse Anderson at TBF 2012, as she really enjoyed “Speak” and “Wintergirls.”
Here are Jessica’s thoughts on Terry’s novels “Stuck in Neutral” and “Cruise Control”:
Though everyone has family tribulations, many families that have a lot more issues than what people see on the exterior. Terry Truman illustrates this in the two young adult books, “Stuck in Neutral” and “Cruise Control.” The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature Honor book, “Stuck in Neutral,” was told from the point of view of a 14-year-old boy who suffers from cerebral palsy. The young boy, Shawn McDainel, is non-verbal and paraplegic, but the author illustrates Shawn to understand the world around him though he has never been able to communicate. Shawn’s family has been affected by his condition in different ways. His father left his wife and three kids because he never was able to handle the situation. His father, Sydney McDaniel, is a writer who has won a Pulitzer Prize for a poem about Shawn, seems to believe that Shawn is in pain and he is fixated on the idea of euthanasia. This disturbs the whole family and the father’s controversial thoughts leave him on the verge of killing Shawn, or not, and so transmits his inner debate to readers.
Though his father believes in “ending Shawn’s pain,” his brother tries to protect Shawn in any way he can. In the book “Cruise Control,” Paul, a high school senior who seems to live a complete opposite life of Shawn, is the narrator. Paul is a basketball star and seems to do well in high school; the problem he faces is the embarrassment of having a brother that he refers as a “Veg.” The thought of himself embarrassed by having a brother with this condition frustrates Paul because he feels ambivalence towards him. His father, Sydney, seems to bring out the worst in Paul, which creates a lot of hateful anger. The book shows Paul go through many different feelings and the hardship of having a family member who requirement so much attention, Paul seems to come in terms with what he really feels by the end of the book.
The Terry Truman books “Stuck in Neutral” and “Cruise Control” are great young adult books, particularly for students who have a difficult time expressing their feeling toward family members that have complex circumstances. The books are well-written and easy reads for middle and high school students. I took pleasure in reading both the books.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jessica!
Readers, come back on Wednesday for another guest blogger’s perspective on Terry’s novels.